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New tech may be linked to rise in distracted driving

Smartphones, built-in infotainment systems and automated features are changing the way people in Connecticut drive, so it's no wonder that distracted driving is such a widespread issue. At the same time, the number of fatal car accidents is going up, and though the two trends have not been definitely linked, they are clearly not coincidental.

The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that 37,150 people died on America's roads in 2017. This is a more than 10 percent increase from 2014. On the other side, numerous studies have shown just how prevalent distracted driving is. Nauto, a maker of smart cameras for vehicle fleets, has been collecting data on road incidents and found that, over a single four-month period, 67 percent of severe collisions were caused by distracted driving.

Researchers at the University of Utah analyzed the amount of drivers' attention that smartphone interfaces and infotainment systems take from the road. 64 participants drove in five different vehicles and were asked to use the various features on the infotainment systems. At other points, they used the interfaces. Researchers concluded that the smartphones were less distracting but nonetheless risky.

MIT researchers are conducting a multi-year study on semi-autonomous features like Tesla's Autopilot. By analyzing driver behavior via cameras and sensors, they can help toward the building of systems that actually hold drivers' attention.

Distracted drivers can be held liable for any car accidents they cause. Victims may opt to have their case evaluated by a lawyer and benefit from their assistance at every step. The lawyer might factor in any contributory negligence (for example, not wearing a seatbelt) into the potential amount for the settlement, have the proof brought together by expert third parties and negotiate with the auto insurance company. The victim, together with the lawyer, may choose to litigate if an agreement is not reached.

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